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Valley Curtain: 1970-1972

Unfurling of curtain for Valley Curtain

Unfurling of curtain for Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970–72, August 10, 1972, gelatin silver print, Shunk-Kender Photography Collection, Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art Library, Gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in memory of Harry Shunk and János Kender. © Christo. Photograph: Shunk-Kender © J. Paul Getty Trust. All Rights Reserved.

Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970–72 was designed for the Grand Hogback ridge near Rifle, Colorado. A swath of 200,200 square feet of orange nylon polyamide fabric was suspended across Rifle Gap at a width of 1,250 feet, and a height from 365 feet at each end to 182 feet at the center. As with Wrapped Coast, Shunk-Kender were from the start an integral part of the project team, which included engineers, site supervisors, 35 construction workers, and 64 temporary staff (college students and itinerant art workers). Over a period of two years, they photographed the initial preparation and meetings associated with planning the project; the construction with a first curtain, which was destroyed by winds on October 9, 1971, just before it could be completed; and the fabrication and construction of a second, final curtain, which was successfully unfurled on August 10, 1972. The completed project existed for only twenty-eight hours before a gale required that it be dismantled.

Harry Shunk and János Kender ended their partnership in 1973; Valley Curtain was their last collaborative project. Shunk continued briefly to work with Christo and Jeanne-Claude and to document the work of other artists. He retained Shunk-Kender’s negatives and photographs until his death in 2006.